Posted by Robert Half on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 00:00 | Follow me
When factoring in the sluggish economic recovery and the fact that unemployment for veterans runs about four points above the national average, re-entering the job market as a veteran can seem like an overwhelming task.
Still, success in the job market doesn’t have to be an uphill climb. As a veteran, you possess a unique set of strengths and skills that can make you a vital, attractive member of the workforce. And companies are always looking to hire veterans. The key is being fully aware of the challenges in front of you while also maintaining the spotlight on your outstanding qualities — the skills that make you marketable.
Here are five ways to find and connect with companies that hire veterans:
1. Do Your Research
To make sure you target the right companies, first study the occupational specialty codes used by the military and correlate them to skills being sought in the job market. Feds Hire Vets is a free, handy tool that can help you make these correlations.
2. Align Your Skills
Next, on a computer screen or sheet of paper, list the skills you developed during your military service, credentials and accomplishments on the left-hand side, using military terms and details. On the right-hand side, translate these characteristics into the language of the civilian field where you’re seeking work. Get an expert or friend in the field to help make sure the language is spot-on, and then — presuming you have the required skills — adapt it to your resume.
3. Sharpen Your Focus
Many companies look to hire veterans. As you begin your job search, however, don’t blur your focus by trying to cover every potential job in the hope that casting a wide net will save time or increase your chances. Narrow your scope to a particular position at a specific company. This will allow you to hone in and emphasize the strengths that make you a good candidate for that opening.
4. Showcase Strengths
In the military, you cultivated powerful qualities that can and will set you apart, especially if the companies you target tend to hire veterans. In your resume, be sure to highlight qualities such as:
- Teamwork, leadership training and decision-making skills
- Problem-solving skills and the ability to work under pressure
- Dependability and punctuality
- Dedication and commitment
- Understanding of the chain of command
Additionally, highlight any security clearance you may have. Because these credentials are expensive and time-consuming to obtain, having them in advance may make you attractive to the right employer. You’ll also want to note specialized skills and experience, such as familiarity with foreign languages. Finally, touch on other skills and talents developed through school or extracurricular activities.
5. Know What’s Out There
Familiarize yourself with related legislation, such as the Joining Forces initiative, in which the White House pledged to lower unemployment rates for veterans. Through the affiliated website, you can access links to other valuable employment programs, such as the Veterans Job Bank.
Remember to emphasize your military-sharpened traits in interviews, cover letters and resumes. In interviews, take things a step further by connecting the dots for the employer in terms of how well your strengths and skills match up with the job requirements. With focus, you can successfully transition into your next career.